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As one might expect, I sample a lot of beers over the course of a year; easily hundreds. It’s rare that I drink the same beer twice in twelve months as I’m too addicted to variety and, as confessed in last week’s Beer of the Week post, I’m a completionist, so I want to try everything. Still, there are brews so good I keep reaching for them. The following are some new San Diego creations I couldn’t get enough of in 2013.


Amplified Aleworks (at California Kebab and Beer Garden)

4150 Mission Boulevard #208, Pacific Beach

Amplified Ale Works Pig Nose Pale Ale: So hoppily bright and refreshingly drinkable it should be the prototype for anybody aiming to produce a West Coast-style pale.

Coronado Brewing Company

170 Orange Avenue, Coronado

Coronado 17th Anniversary Specialty Ale: you can taste 17 years of experience in what is quite possibly the best of the many India pale ales this company has produced.

Culture Black IPA: One of the easiest drinking black IPAs here or anywhere, it comes across with tons of piney aroma but a mild roastiness that doesn’t compete with the hops.

The Lost Abbey

155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos

The Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA: Full-bodied and so spicy it tastes like a rye-infused beer, this is a nice departure from the brewery's Belgian-style beers and typical holiday brews.

Monkey Paw

805 16th Street, East Village

Monkey Paw Bonobos: Even before it struck gold at the Great American Beer Festival, it was obvious this assertive, effervescent beer was primed for the spotlight.

Rip Current Brewing

1325 Grand Avenue #100, San Marcos

Rip Current Caught In A Rip Triple IPA: They serve triple IPAs on the road to Hell…so many good intentions, so many bad IIIPAs. But this one will take imbibers to heaven.

Rip Current Lupulin Lust: One of brewer Paul Sangster’s most award-winning homebrew recipes made a brilliant, Alpha acid-rich transition to the commercial realm.

Societe Brewing Company

8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa

Societe The Bachelor Citra Single-Hop IPA: As intended, this IPA shows off the citrus-forward glory of the hop it celebrates. I give this educational beer a solid A-plus.


AleSmith Brewing Company

9990 Alesmith Court, Miramar

AleSmith Cream Ale: It’s hard to palatably pack tons of hops into a beer. It’s as hard, if not harder, to create a clean session beer, but the AleSmith crew softly hit that nail square on the head.

Intergalactic Brewing Company

9715 Carroll Centre Road #107, Miramar

Intergalactic Astro Scottish Ale: Scottish ales enjoyed a minor local renaissance and this one, produced by an admirer of the style, clearly communicated his passion on the palate.

Port Brewing Board Meeting Imperial Brown Ale: Freshly roasted beans from San Marcos’ Ryan Bros. Coffee give this robust brew a lovely character. It’s become a go-to for yours truly.

Stone Brewing Co.

1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido

Stone Reason Be Damned Belgian Style Abbey Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels: A long, unwieldy name is expected from Stone, but something with Belgian character and oaky tannins from vino barrels isn’t. As good as it was surprising.


2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout: Maybe there’s something to this Ryan Bros. java, because it truly elevated this annual offering into the stuff of legend.

Benchmark Brewing Co.

6190 Fairmount Avenue, Suite G, Grantville

Benchmark Oatmeal Stout: I’m a sucker for a heavily roasty, yet dry, English-style oatmeal stout and this just may be the best one that’s ever crossed my taste buds.

Belching Beaver Brewery

980 Park Center Drive, Suite A, Vista

Belching Beaver Beaver’s Milk: The only milk stout in the county when it came out, it was easy to call it the best, but even with no competitors, it’s a creamy, chocolaty standout.

New English Brewing Co.

11545 Sorrento Valley Road #305, Sorrento Valley

New English Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout: There’s no beer I ordered more this year than this hearty, roasty, semisweet bit of dessert-like sustenance in a snifter.

Nickel Beer Co.

1485 Hollow Glen Road, Julian

Nickel Stonewall Stout: Abundant sweetness is a big detractor for me with non-imperial stouts. This was the most beefy-yet-balanced, savory, local stout I quaffed in 2013.

Saint Archer American Stout: On top of an über-balanced roasted malt bill, this beer delivers plenty of resiny hop notes and serves as a sign that this business is on the right track.

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